One of the advantages to being an old guy (at least in bike racing terms) is that after suffering a beat-down at the hands of a young guy like Tanner on Friday, I always have the option to do the Masters race. This option proved fortuitous this weekend. Twice.
Friday evening I headed back to the criterium venue, where the sun had come out and the course had dried by the time the Masters field rolled out at 6:15. Crits are short enough that I can get away with doing two in one day, which is good, because they’re typically my best shot at getting a good result.
Old guys have lived long enough to realize that making a living is more important than getting a result in a bike race, so they tend to be a bit more civilized than the Cat. 4 field. There are a lot of dentists that race masters, and they know it’s hard to fill a cavity with a broken wrist. And it’s hard to get paid if cavities aren’t getting filled and roots aren’t getting canaled. Masters races mean fewer suicide attacks to cover and fewer sketchy passes—you just have to be prepared for guys who have been racing a long time and who have big motors to set a hard tempo throughout. Since I’m pretty good at sitting in, I like this kind of race.
The biggest motor on Friday evening was teammate Scott K. He was on the front more often than not setting a pace that had 20+ starters down to six or seven contenders by halfway through. With a couple laps to go, Scott attacked solo. Chad from Porcupine went with him, while teammate Nate V. and I sat behind Mike K. from Church of the Big Ring. We weren’t going to chase a teammate but figured we’d try to be there in case he got caught. Mike gave it a good effort, and at one point on the last lap we were within about three bike lengths. But then Mike faded, so I came around to race for third.
Chad looked like he was going to pass Scott K., but suddenly sat up just before the line.
Chad broke his chain in the final straight. Scott took the win, Chad second, me third, Nate V. fourth. My objective was upgrade points, which I got, so I was happy to see Scott get the win and to get some points for myself.
Saturday I was torn between doing the 4/5 race with Steve, trying to place in the overall for the Omnium by racing Masters, and skiing Bonkers with Dug. I chose the 4/5 race. Not sure why. But since it was a day-of decision, I arrived 90 minutes early to register. I waited in line for 85 minutes and was handed a number with just enough time to run to my car and put on my shoes and grab my bike. No warm up. No bathroom break.
Jon J., his brother Paul, and Sam all got shut down entirely. After waiting in line for north of an hour, they were told the field was full and were turned away. Why they combined the 4/5 field is beyond me. Jon came back and raced Masters with me.
Early in the first lap, I rode to the front to try and get everyone to stop for a pee break. Everyone seemed OK with that except Alex W.* from Canyon.
*Kind of a jerk about whom I’d have more to say in private.
The problem with pee breaks is that if one person refuses, it ain’t gonna happen. So I stopped. Alone. I could have tried to marshal teammates for a double assist rolling race pee, but we were going up a bit of a hill, and I’ve never done one of those before, so I figured I’d just stop and try to chase back on.
Awesome graphic courtesy of Alex. The way cool Alex, not to be confused with the not even slightly cool Alex W. from Canyon.
I did my business at the side of the road. It took a while. You’d think it was the end of happy hour rather than the beginning of a bike race there was so much of it.
I jumped back on the bike and chased. Eventually I made my way up to the main field and tucked in at the back to catch my breath. It was a short-lived respite, as I realized a gap had opened up and the front of the field was riding away. I got into no-man’s land and chased, but they crested the hill and started descending before I could catch on. I caught a few guys, a few guys caught us, and eventually we had a real chase group. But I could tell it was doomed. Then I started having an asthma attack. So when we got to the start/finish area, I stopped and told the officials I was withdrawing. Being an old guy, I knew I could save it for the Masters race later in the day.
That lead group pretty much stayed together most of the race. a few guys fell off on the hills, Alex W.’s request notwithstanding. With all the charm he could muster, he exhorted the field with the following: “all you pussies who didn’t do the hill climb this morning better not attack on this climb.” He’s a veritable Dale Carnegie. He survived the first climb but got dropped on the second lap because while intimidation can be a tactic in bicycle races, it can’t be your only tactic if you expect to do well.
After a big pileup (remember what I said about Masters?), there were 15 to 20 guys left in the lead. There are three turns in the last kilometer, and as they approached the first of these, Steve asked teammate Scott P. if he still had a kick. Scott has a great kick and told Steve to just get him to the second turn, and he’d do the rest. Steve attacked after turn one, Scott came around in turn two, coasted through the final turn, and then punched it for the final 200 meters, with nobody even close to him at the end. It was a great display of teamwork and a nice result for Revolution/Cafe Rio.
Later that afternoon in the Masters race, Revolution was again well-represented. I was hoping for some upgrade points and also wanted to see Scott K. get a good enough result to take the overall. Scott is such a strong rider that all I needed to do was cover the counter-attack when he made a move.
On the second lap someone launched a solo attack. We let him go, but on the hill the pace increased, and it was full-on chase mode. The field blew up. At the top, Scott said “we’ve got five, if we work together we can stay away.”
I was not happy. I’m a lazy bike racer and would rather sit in and surge at the end or at least wait until the final climb than have to do work for the entire race. And staying away/keeping it together in a breakaway requires a lot of work—you’re trying not to get caught by the chasers, and you’re trying to keep one of your own from going off solo, so it’s basically hammer down for the duration.
We soon caught the leader, and then before the end of the second lap, Lotoja hero Mark T. and another racer caught us. We were now eight.
Going up the final climb, Bo P. went off the front. I couldn’t answer. If anyone else could, they didn’t want to, so we let him go and figured we’d chase him on the descent. One of the eight fell off, so it was six chasing one.
With 5K to go, we all realized that we were racing for second. Putting in the effort to chase Bo would certainly cost you at least one place in the end. Scott didn’t need the win to take the overall, so I didn’t need to sacrifice my race to be a good teammate. Besides, both quads were cramping at this point, so I couldn’t have done much good anyhow.
With three turns to go, Scott attacked. I waited for the counter and got on that wheel. Scott had gapped us enough that he’d get second. I just sat in until the final corner and then sprinted to take third. I was happy for the result, but even more happy to have the race over. Perhaps it’s just an early season lack of fitness, but I don’t think I’ve every worked at that intensity for that long in a bike race. Every match was burned.
Steve, on the other hand, was spotted riding up the south side of Suncrest Sunday afternoon.